🔴 Man in wheelchair murdered by roommate

🔴 NJ Supreme Court overturned killer's conviction

🔴 Black juror dismissed led to retrial

BELLEVILLE — A man who used a steak knife to stab his roommate to death over rent has been convicted of the murder for a second time.

Edwin Andujar, 59, was found guilty of murder and two weapons offenses on Thursday by an Essex County jury.

His victim, Thomas Parent, 59, was found dead in his wheelchair inside his Belleville apartment on Aug. 7, 2014.

Parent had been stabbed a dozen times including twice in the back, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. Police located a bloody steak knife under his wheelchair.

Edwin Andujar (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)
Edwin Andujar (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)

Andujar had been living at the apartment at 26 Wallace Street without paying rent. He was told by Parent to start paying rent or move out, prosecutors said.

“I stabbed him, I couldn’t take it anymore," Andujar said to a police officer at the scene.

NJ Supreme Court overturned killer's conviction

Andujar was first convicted of Parent's murder in 2017. The jury was not swayed by his claims of self-defense.

He was later sentenced to 45 years in state prison, where he would likely spend the rest of his life.

26 Wallace Street in Belleville (Google Maps)
26 Wallace Street in Belleville (Google Maps)

Then in 2020, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction.

Black juror dismissed led to retrial

The Supreme Court decision granting Andujar a new trial said that implicit racial bias infected the jury selection process.

A dismissed juror, who was a Black man from Newark, was questioned on the side for a half hour, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said the juror should be dismissed because a background check found that he had a municipal warrant for his arrest. He was then arrested outside the courtroom.

Background checks are not done on most jurors. It was only done after the juror said he had friends who engaged in criminal activity and that he knew three crime victims.

Andujar's appeal argued that the questioning and the background check were ways for the prosecution to get around rules that prevent jurors from being dismissed based on race.

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